The closest thing Ferrari and McLaren had to a challenger in 2007, BMW Sauber, will reveal the machine it hopes will take it one step closer to race wins and world titles in Germany today.

In keeping with the majority of launches so far this season, the team has opted to unveil its new contender close to home before heading for the test track, with the covers coming off the F1.08 at BMW Welt in Munich this afternoon.

Officially second in last year's world championship - although team boss Mario Theissen refuses to accept the 'honour' despite McLaren being stripped of all its points - BMW Sauber's aim for 2008 is to break the stranglehold on the top step of the podium established by Formula One's 'big two'. That would mean a first grand prix victory for either - or both - Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, who continue as an unchanged partnership for a second full season at Hinwil. Both drivers have tasted life on the podium, but will hope that the F1.08 has the extra something to convert seconds and thirds into victory.

The launch will take place in impressive surroundings, with the futuristic architecture of the BMW Welt building combining both elegance and an imposing backdrop. A 'modern automotive theme park', it will see the F1.08 'delivered' to Heidfeld and Kubica from precisely the point at which BMW's customers take delivery of their new cars.

The team's preparations then switch to BMW's second 'home', on track at Valencia's Circuit de la Comunitat on Tuesday, when the F1.08 takes its first laps. The Circuit Ricardo Tormo hosted the team's previous two roll-outs, and provides the venue for the annual Formula BMW World Final, and both drivers will return there to give the car its official shakedown.

One unresolved matter which may or may not be sorted during the launch is the identity of Timo Glock's replacement as the team's test and reserve driver. With the German set to return to an F1 race seat with Toyota in 2008, and compatriot Sebastien Vettel also engaged in opposition to BMW, the marque needs to find an adequate back-up, but not be in a position to name names until further evaluation is carried out in the forthcoming test sessions. Reigning British F3 champion Marko Asmer is understood to have been asked back for a second outing and could be the favourite for the role long-term.

 

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